05 March 2023 at 05:05
With Paris-Nice, the first appealing stage race of the cycling season starts today. The ‘Course to the Sun’ will mainly be a duel between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. The two fighting cocks of the last Tour de France are eager to test each other.
The signals from the preparation races of this season are promising. Pogacar made mincemeat of his opponents in the Ruta del Sol in mid-February, to which Vingegaard responded by completely bending O Gran Camiño to his will. The two leaders are therefore in great shape early on.
Vingegaard is eager to show himself in Paris-Nice as well. “I’m looking forward to it,” says the 26-year-old Dane of Jumbo-Visma. “It is always nice to race against Tadej. He is a super strong rider, so it will be an exciting week.”
The 24-year-old Pogacar also looks forward with enthusiasm. “It would be wonderful to add Paris-Nice to my honors list,” says the Slovenian leader of UAE Team Emirates, who will make his debut in the French stage race this year. “Jonas is in top form, but so am I. It’s going to be fun. This will be full speed racing to the last meter.”
In last year’s Tour de France, Vingegaard and Pogacar also went all the way. The two made it a smashing round, after which the Dane brought the yellow to Paris. Two-time Tour winner Pogacar had to settle for second place in the final standings.
Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar made it a spectacular Tour. Photo: Getty Images
New rules in team time trial
In Paris-Nice, Tuesday’s team time trial seems to play a key role. New rules apply in this race against the clock over more than 32 kilometers. Where normally the time of the fourth rider counts, now each driver gets his own time. It can therefore be beneficial for a leader to drive away from his teammates in the final phase.
Vingegaard does not yet know how Jumbo-Visma will handle this. “We have to look closely at that,” says the Dane. “We may adjust our tactics accordingly.”
Pogacar does not expect too much from it. “All teams will work more or less the same as in a normal team time trial, because you are faster with teammates around you. But I cannot tell you how we are going to do it. You will see.”
The first stage of Paris-Nice will start at 1 p.m. Quite a lot of crosswinds are predicted for this 169-kilometer ride, so it could turn out to be a fan spectacle. The French stage race ends on Sunday 12 March.
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